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Local News

"This is Going to Be Hard"

March 20, 2020 -- Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan told the Board of Supervisors Friday that “Social distancing is the only way we can save our healthcare system from collapse.” As long as there is no vaccine or effective pharmaceutical treatment, she added, “The truth is that...while the shelter in place order is written until April 7...we realize that it is highly likely that April 7 is just for the first phase of our shelter in place response.” And if case numbers continue to rise, the order is likely to become ever more stringent. In Sonoma County, the Press Democrat reported that COVID-19 cases doubled to 22 on Friday. Sonoma County also had its first death from the virus that day.

Assembly member Jim Wood called in to the special phone-in Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting Friday morning, to take questions from supervisors and give an update on the first of four new shipments of personal protective equipment for first responders, which arrived in Sacramento on Thursday. 

Doohan has also requested a team of epidemiologists from the California Department of Public Health. There is some confusion about which shelter in place order is the one people in the county should follow, since there is a slightly different version of that order in place state wide. The intent appears to be to follow the most restrictive measures, though Supervisor Ted Williams remarked that, “If it takes an attorney to understand, we’re not doing our job with clarity.” The Breakers Hotel and Vue Kitchen and Restaurant in Gualala has already been shut down for unspecified violations.

Lieutenant Shannon Barney of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said that, as of Thursday night, “We are going door to door to all the hotels and motels, and then we’ll start into trying to locate the B&B’s...going in person to deliver a message that they are not to rent any rooms moving forward without the express consent of the Public Health Officer and the fact that we may need those facilities for surge capacity...The only thing that will not be changed is there are hotels and motels that have long term residents actually living in the facility. Those folks will not be affected.”

Public comment was restricted to written statements, since only the CEO and county staff were in the chambers. SEIU 2015, the caregivers’ union, sent a letter asking for more testing, protective equipment, and sick leave for In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers, as well as compensation for extra time and travel to keep clients safe from the virus.

And the North Bay Association of Realtors weighed in with a letter to local government bodies across the region, saying that if lawmakers heed the increasing calls to ban evictions, the policy could have a serious financial impact on property owners who may be kicking out tenants who aren’t paying rent or are damaging the property. Williams asked Wood what actions the state was taking to get the homeless population off the streets, and if any of the funding for that endeavor was likely to make it to Mendocino.

Wood told him, “I don’t know if it’s reaching our county. I think they’re focusing on the areas with the highest density. I know he (Governor Gavin Newsom) set aside $150 million to work on this issue. I wouldn’t be just sitting there waiting for the state to dispense money or a solution. I think it’s important that we actually push the state for that.”


Local News